For Your Consideration: Community Council’s Puzzling Performance

Dramatic opposition to thousands of dollars of resources for Mifflin School unfolds before our camera at last Monday night’s General Meeting, while President Bill Epstein evidently feigns cluelessness? 

Eastfallslocal bill epstein

Weird meeting last week, guys. Clips provided below sum up the most interesting bits for us. But first, two items of immediate import —

1 — LOOSE-LEAF COLLECTION:   Remember when the city used to collect unbagged leaves from the street in front of your house? Us neither, but apparently it was a thing for years that the city did away with BUUUUUT this year there’s gonna be one collection, December 7th. Have your leaves (and/or sticks, plants, garden refuse of all kinds) in the street for mechanical leaf collection.

2 — SPEED CUSHIONS on PENN:  the head of EFCC’s traffic committee, John Gillespie, announced that a stretch of Penn Street is now slated for speed cushions. Seems 70% of the neighbors on an upper block near McMichael have signed a petition because the residents feel that speed cushions on other streets have caused overflow traffic to theirs (a common problem — read more about how dated “traffic calming” methods slow emergency vehicles, inhibit snow removal, and even lower property values, sigh).

Now onto one of the strangest performances — and we really kinda do need to call it that — we’ve ever seen at one of these meetings. From our viewpoint, the Development Corporation’s director, Gina Snyder, was kinda bullied as she tried to update the community on positive projects funded by one of the biggest contributors to our neighborhood, the Philadelphia Water Department.

Below, Gina explains an environmentally-focused after-school program (now in its 2nd year) that this year grows to include exciting new landscaping for Mifflin’s terribly overgrown “arboretum” that was once a lovely rock garden but now a place where teenagers party & leave trash behind.

Gina literally says the words “it will be a full community process”  (1:20) but long-time EFCC member Chris Caporellie comes out swinging (3:20), accusing Gina of uprooting “everything we’ve ever done for the past eight years” while adding a palpable tension to the proceedings.

Another council member (who serves on many committees), Meg Greenfield, echoed Chris’s shock and ire that EFDC would dare make *any* plans to improve this public, neighborhood property without express permission, I guess, of every EFCC committee possibly involved…? I mean, the school’s principal plus EFCC’s own Friends of Mifflin have been part of this plan, too.

EastFallsLocal Mifflin overgrown collage

Indeed, even EFCC president Bill Epstein’s a big supporter of the Mifflin landscaping grant in recent discussions (we’ve seen emails!). You’d never know it, by how silent he remained while Gina fielded ridiculous accusations no one had any business making.  She’s clearly explaining a collaborative process, why the outrage over improvements that would only help the arboretum? Again, this is PUBLIC PROPERTY, people.

Seems to us Chris and Meg were needlessly giving Gina a hard time, while the president stood idly by. What’s the deal? Bill Epstein’s been in on the PWD planning why play dumb during Gina’s update, I wonder?

And why continue the act with EFCC’s plans for another community newspaper?

It’s no secret Community Council’s been sending neighbors around with flyers asking for help with their new website, “…an on-line publication called East Falls Today  to be discussed (along with printing options) at the November general meeting. But no such conversation occurred. When asked directly, Bill Epstein only admitted to working on an email list to replace the Fallser.

Almost died, then, when lifelong local Christina Kistler dared to mention our name, our efforts, and even called for us all to work through “personality conflicts” for the good of the community. EFCC’s recording secretary, Larry Benjamin, then also gave us a shout-out, and underscored his own commitment to keeping East Falls neighbors connected.

Could our Little Blog that Could be making headway into community council acceptance? I suppose if we were really interested in their imprimatur, we’d probably cool it on the snarky video commentary but then again the point of all of this is to push back against off-putting negativity at meetings that not only offends our sense of fairness, but has literally kept neighbors we know from attending & participating.

Eastfallslocal lets play nice collage

After witnessing nasty in-fighting between EFCC & EFDC for over a year, clearly we could use kinder, gentler, more inclusive Community representation in East Falls — until then, we’ll document what we have.  Meanwhile, we’ve added a new Events calendar to our website, plus a “Contributors” tab featuring new local voices from real people enjoying our unique little corner of Northwest Philly.

Thanks for reading! We now return our website back to its usual upbeat & engaging local coverage….

 

3 Comments

  • John (Jake) Margerum

    I enjoy the work of EFL and appreciate all the effort in presenting items of interest to the whole community. I am a dues paying member of EFCC but don’t often attend the meetings because I tire of the incessant bickering and generally negative attitude often expressed in the meetings. I applaud the good work done by EFDC and hope Gina continues her efforts to improve the neighborhood.

  • Rich Lampert

    I’m a longtime EFCC member and a former president back in the day. Seems to me that a lot of people continue to play the same tapes they’ve been playing for years, and almost always the old tapes are negative. I’m glad that you relative newcomers are reporting through your eyes, and I hope some of the old antagonists will realize that it’s time to let go of who did what to whom a generation ago. Keep up the clear-eyed work!

  • Anne Brehony

    So refreshing! Have been through difficult times with zoning issues that were not diffused and I agree it is time to move on. Let’s see a collective effort to move forward to making East Falls even a better home than it is now!

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